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Rosneft readies Slavneft suit

Rosneft President Sergei Bogdanchikov announced at a 25 December press conference that the state-owned company is readying a lawsuit against the Russian Federal Property Fund over its exclusion from the 18 December Slavneft auction, "Kommersant" reported on 26 December.

Last-minute court decisions barred two Rosneft-affiliated entities from participating in the sale of the 74.96 percent stake. Sibneft and Tyumen Oil Company purchased the stake for $1.86 billion through a company called Investoil. Bogdanchikov claimed that Rosneft had been willing to pay up to $3.1 billion for Slavneft through Promproekt, a company created especially to circumvent the ban on participation by state-owned companies in privatization auctions.

The announcement provided some insight into the murky structures that auction participants chose as "investment vehicles" in bidding for Slavneft. Bogdanchikov revealed that Promproekt was founded by five companies, each founded by a private individual and funded by a consortium of banks.

"Kommersant" speculated that Rosneft's financial backer might have been Sergei Pugachev's Mezhprombank. Trust Investment Bank analyst Vladislav Metnev told "Gazeta" on 26 December that only Western banks could have provided the necessary funds. "Vremya novostei" referred to unnamed "experts," writing on 26 December that Bogdanchikov, Gazprom head Aleksei Miller, and Mezhprombank founder Pugachev stood behind Promproekt. Bogdanchikov told journalists that Rosneft will file suit "after New Year's," "Izvestiya" reported on 26 December.

(RFE/RL 30.xii.02)

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